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The House Church Network: Dedicated to Kingdom Expansion
What's the Meaning of Life?

This week's question is the question of the ages and it comes from Doug, an alumnus of M.I.T. He asks, "What is the meaning of life?"

I looked, and there isn't one, single, solitary Bible verse that says, "The meaning of life is . . . ." So, to discover the biblical view of life's meaning, we'll have to dig, study, and extrapolate. But to begin with, the meaning of life is inextricably linked to the purpose of life. When we fulfill life's purpose, we have discovered meaning.

In the beginning, Genesis records the initial purpose of humankind: "The Lord God took the human and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and care for it" (Genesis 2.15). The human's purpose, therefore, was initially to care for creation. As the biblical story continued to unfold and the Israelite people were born, the Law and the commandments expressed the directive to care for creation, but with special attention added to the ethical treatment of humanity. Although the initial purpose of life had not changed, there was an ever-expanding understanding that the care of creation included caring for each other.

By the time we reach the New Testament, we discover a subtle twist in the purpose of life. Jesus said, "I came that you may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10.10b). Jesus comes the closest to giving us an actual definition of what the meaning of life is -- that we may have an abundant life. And the abundant life is obtained by listening to his voice (John 10.16), i.e., obeying his teachings.

What were Jesus' teachings? Virtually all he said can be summarized by two commandments and one commission. We are to love God, love each other (Matthew 22.37-39), and we are to be busy making disciples by sharing what Jesus taught (Matthew 28.19-20).

So, the purpose of life is to care for creation, care for each other, and share the teachings of Christ, all of which demonstrate our commitment to God. And in fulfilling our purpose in life, we discover meaning.

But every life is different, so it stands that each of us must have different means to accomplish our purpose. Surely God didn't create automatons that are supposed to be exactly alike? Paul deals with this very issue in his first letter to the Corinthians. There he writes that each person has been given gifts to accomplish the purpose of God (1 Corinthians 12). Each person is as different as they are important in the accomplishment of this purpose. We were all created to do "good works" on earth (Ephesians 2.10), but each of us accomplish differing good works, depending on our gifts, talents, skills, and opportunities. Notwithstanding, our individual purposes remain, in diverse ways, to care for creation, care for each other, and share Jesus' teachings.

When each man, woman, and child discovers their purpose in life, and when they have determined how they will accomplish that purpose, then life is filled with meaning. For without purpose, there can be no meaning. If we accept that our purpose is to do good, one to another in all things, there can be no greater meaning and no greater good in life.

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